The Red Sweater Story

 

I would like to share a story.  This story happened many years ago.  At the time, I didn’t know how much someday it would mean.  It happened in one of the darkest times in my life.  A that time, I knew God redeems, but I didn’t truly understand what that would look like.  Well, I sure do now!

It all started one night when I was home alone.  Due to an illness, I was not able to drive.  I was living in a a suburb with little public transportation.  I was in the process of accepting that this was the way things were to be for a while.  This night would be my first attempt in stepping out.  I planned to take my first bus ride to the local mall.  I found the bus stop, and was ready to try my new way of getting around.  Boy, was I in for an experience.  One  I never forgot.

While waiting for the bus, surrounded by people a man pulled up in a car and opened the door for me to get into.  He was just an ordinary man.  He appeared to have just left  a full day of work.  I looked around me thinking he was waiting for someone else to get in.  Then, I realized he wanted me to get into his car.  I remembered shaking my head no.  He closed the door and drove off.  I, then glanced around me to see the other people around me.  It was then,  I realized my very first bus stop was where men picked up their women of the evening.  This man thought I was one of them.

Because of the state I was in, this affected me in ways only a broken woman can understand.  I looked at myself trying to figure out what I did to make him think that.  That night I had on a long red sweater.  I remembering thinking it was the sweater, it had to be the sweater.

I drove the bus to mall that night, but once I got there I could not stay.  I was so upset about what I just experienced, I just got back on the bus and went home.  This time, I got off at a different bus stop and walked a little further to get home.

When I got home I threw my red sweater away.  I never wanted to remember that evening.  The sweater would remind me.

I look back at that night now with new eyes.  I wish I never threw away my red sweater.  It means something different to me now.  Now,  it shows me what God has done with all my brokenness.  He has redeemed all the hurt and sorrow that time represented.  He has turned my mourning into dancing.

I never thought that 15 years later I would be starting a ministry to pray and act against exactly what I saw that night.  I guess it was God’s way of showing me glimpses of something so much bigger than myself.  Instead of being hurt that I was mistaken for what I thought was dirty and terrible, he has given me compassion for those really experiencing the pain of human trafficking.  God never seems to amaze me by showing me what He is capable of.

Psalm 30:11

You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy,

2 Corinthians 1:4

He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.

Isaiah 43:1

But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.

Zephaniah 3:17-18

The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing  as on a day of festival. “I will remove disaster from you, so that you will not bear reproach for it.

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